The practice of yoga in the west has upsurged over the years; it has emerged as a popular way of achieving spiritual growth in various communities, groups and educational institutions. Originated in India, with roots in Hinduism and Buddhism, it was introduced in schools to reduce students' stress.
But at Bullard Elementary School in Kennesaw, Georgia, US, things went wrong after the school received multiple complaints - from parents who felt yoga is promoting non-Christian beliefs. Subsequently, the Sanskrit greeting "Namaste," and coloring pages with symbol of the Mandala (a spiritual symbol in Indian religions representing the cosmos) were removed by the school, says this report by The Washington Post.
The school principal Patrice Moore wrote an e-mail to the parents announcing the changes in the yoga practice.
Moore said in the letter, "I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/ de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our school and community. While we have been practicing de-stressing techniques in many classrooms for years, there have been some recent practices associated with mindfulness that are offensive to some."
One of the parents, Christopher Smith shared his views on Facebook.
“Now we can’t pray in our schools or practice Christianity but they are allowing this Far East mystical religion with crystals and chants to be practiced under the guise of stress release meditation,” he wrote. “This is very scary.”
According to a yoga instructor, Cheryl Crawford, who has taught at several schools in Georgia, says that yoga can help calm students who are anxious about their studies or coping with anger and bullying issues, it doesn't endorse any faith, the report adds.